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Feb. 11, 2016

Weekend Information

Date: Feb. 12-14, 2016

First Pitch: 9:30 a.m. Fri. & Sat., 11:15 Sun.

Location: Tampa, Fla.

Stadium: USF Softball Stadium

Live Audio: Gamecock All-Access


Feature Stories

Gamecock Seniors: Changing the Culture
Gamecock Seniors: Leaving a Legacy
Page – The Loose Leader
Gamecock Freshmen Build Connection before Columbia
Unique Recruiting Trip Impacts Future Gamecocks
Accountability Program for Gamecock Softball
Plew Whitlock Returns Home
Elliott Driven for Success
Augustus Honing Leadership Skills
Video: Softball – The First 18
Gamecock Softball Part of Week of Giving
Webb Part of Mission Trip to Honduras
Gamecock Alums Reunite for Wounded Warrior Amputee Game
Page Goes Behind the Scenes at Colonial Life Arena
WWP Makes Jen Castro Gamecock for a Day

South Carolina Begins 2016 in USF Wilson-Demarini Tournament

  • The South Carolina Gamecocks start the 2016 campaign with tests galore in the USF Wilson-Demarini Tournament in Tampa. Fla.
  • South Carolina takes on last year’s Women’s College World Series runner-up and preseason No. 2/2 Michigan in the event’s opener at 9:30 a.m. on Fri., Feb. 12.
  • The Gamecocks also take on host and regional rival USF on Friday afternoon, fellow 2015 NCAA Tournament team Virginia Tech on Saturday and perennial Missouri Valley contender Illinois State on Sunday.
  • An audio feed for all four games will be available via subscription to Gamecock All-Access on

South Carolina Team Notes

  • South Carolina is the only SEC team to improve its win total in each of the past three season, going from 23 wins in 2012 to 38 in 2015.
  • Fledgling outlet College Sports Madness honored senior Alaynie Page on its Preseason All-America second team, while she also made the Preseason All-SEC team from the site and the league’s coaches.
  • In a preseason poll of SEC coaches, the Gamecocks ranked 11th of 13. It’s a prediction South Carolina has bettered in each of the previous two seasons.

Offensive Records Falling Regularly for Gamecocks under Smith

  • In head coach Beverly Smith’s first five years, the Gamecocks have broken team offensive records 24 times (tracked on page 14 in these notes).
  • South Carolina broke four more team offensive records in 2015: home runs (60), HR per game (1.00), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.473).
  • Smith’s teams have set the home run and slugging percentage records now in four-straight seasons and the on-base percentage mark in each of the last three.
  • While not a record, the Gamecocks have hit .291 over the past four seasons, 75 points higher than the year before Smith came to Columbia.

Gamecock Pitching Making Strides

  • Smith’s pupils in the circle have also improved greatly in her first five seasons.
  • Gamecock pitching has improved its strikeout-to-walk ratio in each of the past three seasons.
  • Junior Nickie Blue, who led the nation in saves as a freshman, posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00 in 2015, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).
  • Blue’s 165 strikeouts last season rank 14th in Gamecock history.
  • Graduate Julie Sarratt put her name in the career top 10 for pitchers in eight major categories, including a tie for third in appearances (142).

Some of Last Year’s Milestones in SEC Play

  • For the second-consecutive year, South Carolina won at least half of its SEC three-game series, marking the seventh time it’s happened since the advent of the three-game series in 2001 (2001-03, `05, `07, `14).
  • The five series wins in 2015 was last done in 2005, when the team took six of eight three-game sets.
  • That included series wins over No. 9 Tennessee and No. 14 Kentucky.
  • The victories at Kentucky marked the first SEC series victory for the Gamecocks on the road at a ranked team.
  • South Carolina won its final four series, including two road series triumphs at Kentucky and Mississippi.

Page Soared in 2015

  • Last season, left fielder Alaynie Page became the first Gamecock under head coach Beverly Smith to earn NFCA All-America accolades, garnering a spot on the first team.
  • Page also gained first-team All-SEC honors from the coaches, the second under Smith (Lauren Lackey, 2012).
  • First-team All-SEC honorees Page and Auburn’s Emily Carosone finished 2015 in the top 40 in the country in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • Page led the team in 12 offensive categories, including batting average (.446), slugging percentage (.826), runs (58), hits (82), doubles (11), triples (7), home runs (15) and RBI (45).
  • The Gamecocks’ leadoff hitter has reached base 61.5 percent of the time she’s led off an inning.
  • Only on three occasions has she not reached base safely in a game (Western Carolina 2/26, No. 21/20 Missouri 3/9, at No. 14/16 Kentucky-1 4/18).
  • Page moved runners up at a team-best 60.8 percentage in 79 opportunities.

Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts

  • Junior Nickie Blue enters 2016 with her name already showing up in South Carolina’s career top 15 in many pitching categories.
  • With her victories, she’s 12th in wins (38) and 11th in winning percentage (.667).
  • She’s tied for 15th in appearances (86) and stands 15th in innings pitched (377) and in earned run average (2.43).
  • She’s already 14th in career strikeouts (283), just six from tying Aleca Johnson in 13th.
  • In rate stats, she’s already 14th in fewest hits per seven innings pitched (6.24) and eighth in strikeouts per seven innings (5.25).
  • The junior will once again anchor South Carolina’s staff with her heavy drop ball producing ground outs at a 65 percent rate (506-269) in her first two years on campus.

We Schedule Tough

  • On this year’s schedule, the Gamecocks are set to play 23 of their 56 regular-season games against teams who made the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
  • Ten of those come against Women’s College World Series participants, the season opener vs. Michigan and three each in SEC play at Auburn and LSU and at home against Alabama.
  • A total of 37 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games come against teams that finished in the top 101 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year.
  • Thirty-three games are set for Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, including visits from former Gamecocks turned assistant coaches Chelsea Hawkins (UNC Greensboro), Michigan State (Kaela Jackson) and Connecticut (Chrissy Schoonmaker).

Roster Notes

  • Seven position player starters return for the Gamecocks from last year’s squad.
  • Every major offensive category leader from 2015 returns for the Gamecocks, 14 of those by Alaynie Page.
  • SC lost four seniors who combined to start 143 games, including every start at catcher and 57 of 60 starts in centerfield.
  • The Gamecocks return over 70 percent of its offense in most categories, from 79.9 percent of their walks to 71.7 percent of the home runs.
  • The highest percentage lost in any offensive category is triples at 37.5, with five of those by Kristen Struett.
  • Forty of the Gamecocks’ 41 stolen bases return.
  • In the circle, 53.1 percent of the innings return, most by staff ace Nickie Blue.
  • Blue also brings back 61.4 percent of the team’s strikeouts.
  • Five newcomers join the squad, led by NJCAA Pitcher of the Year Jessica Elliott.
  • The team is dominated by South Carolina natives, with 28.6 percent of the roster (six players) hailing from the Palmetto State. California is second with four players.
  • The Gamecocks hail from 11 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio.
  • Nickie Blue and Hayley Copeland are the first Gamecock duo who are both over six-feet tall.
  • While both Williams’ and juniors by class, Taylor and Victoria are not sisters.

Gamecocks Have a Rich History in NCAA Tournament

  • South Carolina earned its 18th bid in the NCAA Tournament last season, its third straight under head coach Beverly Smith.
  • The Gamecocks are 34-35 in those trips, making three Women’s College World Series in their history (1983, 1989 and 1997).
  • The program has five AIAW World Series trips in its history as well prior to 1982.

South Carolina Staff Has Top Credentials

  • Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith has been a part of 11 NCAA Tournament teams as a coach (eight at UNC, three at South Carolina).
  • Associate head coach Lisa Navas has been to five NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach (three at SC, one each at UNC and Missouri) and eight as a head coach (six Division II at Barry, two at NC State). Her 1998 Barry squad played in the national championship game.
  • Assistant coach Calvin Beamon has three titles to his credit as a player, the biggest a College World Series title at Texas during 2005.
  • He also won the NJCAA Division I title in 2003 at the College of Southern Nevada and a high school state championship at Smoky Hill High School in Cherry Creek, Colo.
  • Volunteer assistant Tina Plew Whitlock played on the last Gamecock team to make the Women’s College World Series and has coached teams to the NCAA Tournament at the Division II level.

South Carolina Softball Historical Record

  • South Carolina has played 2,124 games in its softball history, going 1378-739-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
  • Beverly Smith is the second person to serve five seasons as South Carolina’s head coach, joining NFCA Hall-of-Fame coach Joyce Compton.

Scouting Michigan

  • Last year’s national runner-up, Michigan went 60-8 and won the Big Ten with a 21-2 record.
  • Only one starter from the lineup and the No. 2 pitcher have graduated for the Wolverines.
  • Ace Megan Betsa led the way last year with 211.1 innings in the circle, striking out 333 batters while walking 104 en route to a 1.72 ERA and 11 shutouts.
  • Michigan will need to replace Haylie Wagner, who tossed 172.1 innings with a 1.75 ERA.
  • At the plate, the top six hitters return for Michigan.
  • Sierra Romero led the team with a .449 batting average, .601 on-base percentage, .909 slugging percentage, hitting 22 home runs, driving in 83 and walking 58 times.
  • Sierra Lawrence hit 19 doubles, top on the team, and 14 home runs, tied for third, while her .473 on-base percentage and 60 RBI ranked fourth.
  • On the bases, Lawrence topped Romero in steals, 24 to 21, with both trying to swipe 25.
  • Kelly Christner ranked second on the team with 21 home runs, 67 RBI, a .776 slugging percentage and a .484 on-base percentage.
  • Tera Blanco and Lindsay Montemarano both had seven sacrifice hits, tops on the team.
  • The one starter lost is catcher Lauren Sweet, who did not commit an error while she caught seven of 31 attempted base stealers.
    The Last Meeting
    South Carolina 0
    Michigan 8 (5)
    March 7, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    Seventh-Ranked Michigan Downs South Carolina in Five, 8-0
    The Gamecocks (9-9) could not get the bats going as the squad lost to No. 7 Michigan, 8-0, in five innings to close the team’s stay at the 2010 Easton SEC/Midwest Challenge at Alabama Softball Stadium.

Ties Between South Carolina and Michigan

  • Michigan’s Megan Betsa and Sierra Lawrence both played for the Atlanta Vipers, the same group that Gamecock Caroline Cash played for at one time.
  • Wolverine freshman Faith Canfield comes to Ann Arbor from the SoCal A’s, the same group that produced a trio of Gamecocks: junior Kaylea Snaer, sophomore Hayley Copeland and freshman Kennedy Clark.

SC Series History vs. the Wolverines

  • Michigan leads the series 10-7 all-time, including a 7-4 mark in neutral-site meetings.

The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. Michigan – March 7, 2010

  • The Wolverines won an 8-0 contest in five innings as part of the Easton Challenge hosted by Alabama.
The Last Meeting
South Carolina 2
May 17, 2014
Tallahassee, Fla.
Gamecocks Fall in Heartbreaker 3-2 to USF to Close 2014 Season
South Carolina held a lead most of the game, but USF proved its mettle by coming back with two in the seven to take a 3-2 victory to move to Sunday’s championship games in the Tallahassee Regional, ending the Gamecocks’ season with a 35-22 record.

Scouting USF

  • The Bulls return seven starters from last year’s 36-20 team that finished fifth in the American Athletic Conference in 2015.
  • Also back are the top-two pitchers by ERA, Erica Nunn (2.12 in 102.1 innings) and Susan Wysocki (2.38 in 70.2 innings).
  • Nunn started 20 games and held foes to a .215 batting average, fanning 84 while walking 60.
  • Last year’s USF team tosed seven complete games, five coming from Nunn and Wysocki combined.
  • Offensively, the Hokies stole 91 bases last year, with only 25 departing from last year’s bunch.
  • Lee Ann Spivey led the Bulls in nearly every offensive category, including 10 home runs, 52 RBI, a .378 batting average and .679 slugging percentage.
  • Spivey’s 10 home runs was 36 percent of USF’s tally of 28 last year.
  • Kristen Wyckoff returns after leading USF with five triples, 45 runs scored and 25 stolen bases.
  • Monica Santos, who led the Bulls with a .440 on-base percentage, also brings back eight doubles.
  • Also back is Lauren Evans, as she topped USF with seven sacrifice hits.

SC Series History vs. the Bulls

  • South Carolina owns a 20-10 advantage in the all-time series, including a 10-4 record in Tampa.

The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. USF – May 17, 2014

  • The Bulls ended the Gamecocks’ season with two seventh-inning runs to take a 3-2 win in the Tallahassee Regional.
  • Three Gamecocks who started that game remain on the team: Kaylea Snaer, Ansley Ard and Taylor Williams. Snaer drew two walks.
The Last Meeting
South Carolina 1
Virginia Tech 5
March 14, 2007
Columbia, S.C.
Virginia Tech Duo Combine for 5-1 Win Over No. 24 Gamecocks To Split Series
960670.jpeg Virginia Tech scored a combined five runs in back-to-back innings to grab a 5-1 game two win over the 24th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks and split the doubleheader series Wednesday night.

Scouting Virginia Tech

  • The Hokies made the NCAA Tournament last season with a 34-23 mark, finishing seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • Five starters return from that bunch, including top hitter Breanna Davenport and leading run producer Kelsey Mericka.
  • Mericka hit 17 home runs and drove in 44 runs, while Davenport hit .331 with a team-best 12 doubles.
  • Missing, however, are the top two base stealers Kylie McGoldrick (11 SB) and Lauren Gaskill (12 SB), who both hit over .300 at the plate.
  • Top pitcher Maggie Tyler returns after posting 187.2 innings in the circle.
  • Tyler struck out 227 while walking only 57, tallying a 3.17 ERA. She did allow 21 home runs.
  • Mikaela Aiken returns as well after finishing second on the team in ERA (2.91) and third in innings (69.2).
  • Gone is Kelly Heinz, who tossed 114.1 innings a year ago and went 12-6 with five shutouts.

SC Series History vs. the Hokies

  • Virginia Tech owns a slim 6-5 lead in the all-time meetings.
  • The teams split a doubleheader in 2007, the last year the program’s met.

The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. Virginia Tech – March 14, 2007

  • The Hokies avenged a 2-1 loss in game one by taking a 5-1 win in game two at Beckham Field.
The Last Meeting
South Carolina 0
Illinois State 7
February 27, 2009
Columbus, Ga.
Illinois State Stops South Carolina’s 10-Game Run in 7-0 Decision
2799334.jpeg All good things come to an end, and that proves true with South Carolina softball as the squad drops a 7-0 decision to Illinois State to end a 10-game winning streak in the second game for the Gamecocks in the NFCA Leadoff Classic at South Commons Stadium.

Scouting Illinois State

  • Six starters return from last year’s team that went 25-31 and finished seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • The team’s top-two pitchers return, Sarah Finck and Regan Romshek, who tossed 292.2 of the team’s 354 innings last season.
  • Finck had a 4.35 ERA in 93.1 innings, while Romshek posted a 4.53 ERA in 199.1 innings.
  • Romshek also contributed at the plate, ranking second among the Redbirds in batting average (.347), homers (15) and RBI (37).
  • Also back, Annie Heineman led the squad in hitting (.356) and stolen bases (11-12).
  • Jordan de los Reyes is back after leading the team with 18 home runs and 47 RBI. She also topped the Redbirds with a .442 on-base percentage and a .727 slugging percentage.
  • In total, the top five home run hitters return, combining to hit 55 of ISU’s 70 last season.
  • Of the four starters who departed, Kara Repp led the team in sacrifice hits, posting 11 of the team’s 41. Kelsey Turczyn, who finished second on the team with seven sac bunts last season, also graduated.

SC Series History vs. the Redbirds

  • Illinois State owns a slim 6-5 lead in the all-time meetings, though the Gamecocks are 5-4 in the neutral-site affairs.

The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. Illinois State – Feb. 27, 2009

  • In the Gamecocks’ final game at a snow-shortened NFCA Leadoff Classic, Illinois State came out on top 7-0 in Columbus, Ga.

Gamecocks Off the Diamond

  • The 2015 Gamecocks posted the team’s best GPA at 3.442.
  • Thirteen Gamecocks garnered NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2014-15, the most under in the past five seasons.
  • Victoria Williams became the 16th Gamecock selection to CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team with her pick last year.
  • Off the 2015 roster with 22 students, 19 Gamecocks earned SEC Academic Honor Roll nods last year.
  • Sophomore Jordyn Augustus is one of 15 South Carolina students on the Columbia campus selected to participate in the Carolina Leadership Initiative for this academic year.
  • Many Gamecocks have been on mission trips during their summers, including Augustus, Caroline Cash, Effie Manahan and Macey Webb.
  • The softball team has won the department’s Community Outreach Team of the Year twice under Bev Smith in 2011 and 2013.
  • Gamecock signees Mackenzie Boesel, Cayla Drotar and Alexis Lindsey, during their official visit this fall, joined the team and community helping Columbia recover from the historic floods that devastated the Midlands in early October.

Awards Poured in for 2015 Gamecocks

  • Alaynie Page became South Carolina’s first NFCA All-American in 16 years when she earned a first-team nod.
  • She also garnered first-team All-SEC honors, while Tiara Duffy gained a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team in the utility spot.
  • Page ranked as the only Gamecock on the NFCA All-Southeast Region team.
  • Macey Webb gained a spot on the 2016 SEC Softball Community Service Team.
  • Nickie Blue claimed the SEC Pitcher of the Week honor on March 16, 2015.

This Is How Tough 2015 Was (Especially in the SEC)

  • The Gamecocks played 30 games against teams who made the 2015 NCAA Tournament, with SC going 13-17 in those games.
  • The Gamecocks went 22-19 against teams with RPI marks in the top 100, including five wins over top-25 squads (Cal at 20, two vs. Tennessee at 9, two at Kentucky at 25).
  • A total of 41 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games came against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 26 were against RPI top-50 teams.
  • This year, South Carolina faced regular-season champs from the SEC (Florida), ACC (Florida State), American (UCF), Conference USA (Western Kentucky), Atlantic Sun (USC Upstate) and Big South (Longwood) as well as the tourney champs of the Sun Belt (South Alabama).